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Greens preparing for government


Two polls have now suggested Labour, the Greens and Hone Harawira will have the numbers to form the next government.

Last week, Roy Morgan had Labour on 34.5% and the Greens on 13.5%, a combined 48%.  This week, Fairfax put Labour/Green on 47%.

While the most likely outcome remains Winston Peters again holding the balance of power, Labour/Green is tantalisingly close to getting there on its own.

The Greens’ far-left political positioning means they would have no brute political leverage over Labour in government.

Faced with grumbling Greens, all prime minister David Shearer would need to do is gently suggest they try their luck with National leader Judith Collins.

The Greens’ strategy, therefore, is to keep building their own vote, outperform Labour on new policy and arrive in government in sufficient numbers to demand the right to operate as near equals.

Economy first
The Greens finally achieved double figures in 2011 from a strategy built around co-leader Russel Norman.

It was based on feedback that while voters largely liked the Greens’ environmental positioning, they didn’t trust them not to do wacky things on the economy.

Consequently, environmental alarmism was played down, the economy was played up, and Green spokesmen wore suits and ties as they talked about the balance of payments deficit.  Supporting this was the party’s first-ever nationally coordinated volunteer management system, the so-called “Green Machine,” which saw hundreds of activists receive daily instructions from head office. 

The Greens were the first to use Facebook effectively and, for the first time, the party’s notoriously unreliable supporters received messages reminding them to vote.

The effort won over 90,000 new voters and took the Greens to 11.1%.

Since the election, the strategy has been broadly maintained.  With international efforts to achieve a meaningful climate change agreement having failed, the Greens have toned down their demands for further acts of environmental self-flagellation.

Instead, the focus has been on the alleged manufacturing crisis, monetary policy, housing and – intriguingly – promoting economic growth in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector.

There have been stumbles, including Dr Norman’s call for the government to print money overshadowing his more mainstream proposal that the Reserve Bank first cut the Official Cash Rate.

But the Greens have been determined to lead the news cycle on the economic issues of the day and have successfully outperformed Labour in delivering the quick-reaction soundbite to radio and TV.

Engaging business
This year, the party wants to continue trying to build economic credibility, including with the business community.

Climate change will re-emerge as an issue as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its fifth assessment reports between now and the next election.  But the Greens are unlikely to argue that New Zealand businesses should pay above the world carbon price, which reached a new low this week.

More significantly, party strategists believe the discussion-document and consultation process used for its ICT policy is a good model for engaging with business.

That process attracted serious feedback from the ICT sector and led to a reasonably well-received proposal for a second Trans-Tasman and Trans-Pacific internet cable system.

Ten further discussion-document exercises are planned for this year on a wide-range of policy issues.

The topics will be chosen based on what issues become hot politically through the year but the tone will be serious, focussing on long-term economic and job growth rather than populist quick wins like lower prices.

The thinking is that not only will this position the Greens as far more open, competent, outward-looking and future-focused than Labour, but Green Party thinking will be cemented as core coalition policy on a wide new range of issues.

Backing all this up will be an even more powerful Green Machine, with tens of thousands of new email addresses gathered during the asset-sales petition exercise.

The business community and the Greens will always be wary of one another but it is increasingly likely the two will have to work together through much of the rest of this decade, if not into the 2020s.  For the sake of sane-ish economic policy through those years, it is to be hoped the Greens genuinely are prepared to listen to the people who create the nation’s wealth and that, for its part, the business community is also prepared to engage meaningfully.

More by Matthew Hooton

Comments and questions

Perhaps the Greens should volunteer themselves to fight the bush fires, they indirectly create....

Build economic cred - yeah right after their stupidity in suggesting printing money, it will take a few decades to get over that clanger.

The sad fact is that the Greens are not a mainstream party which sits well with middle NZ which quite frankly deliver all the taxes and supports the NZ economy. Mainstream NZ understands that the Greens are about the environment and happy to engage in such debate and support..but when middle NZ drops their kids off at the school they don't want aging surfies and debates on cannabis entering the classroom. Middle NZ want a government with all it's warts to nuture our children. At the moment National and Maori party does that alone...Labour has massive union ideology, NZ first have the most unbelievable list MP's and greens run a credible third but really if they are serious they should talk more with national and Maori.

I wish that Mainstream NZ thought as rationally as you imply they will. Many of the MNZ feel good about voting fuzzy and green , little realising that the tumbril going past their door will have them on it! And, in 2014, I fear that several will do the "punishment vote" thing.

Mainstream NZ would be wrong then. The greens are far more around their red centre. When has Meteria Turei (or Russell Norman for that matter) actualy promoted anything to do with the environment. For them it is all about wealth redistribution and power of the state. So taxes are going to go up, businesses are going to go under (or be nationalised) and the government will have its fingers in everything. Shearer won't let that happen? Yeah, right.

Great comments. Well, I guess that means I agree wholeheartedly. If the Greens want any sort of credibility and to be a part of a government then they need to get closer with National and the Maori Party. But dollars to donuts they won't. It would appear they are much more comfortable sitting outside government where they can't actually achieve anything but are still free to float any manner of hair-brained ideas that are just not achievable in the real world. I suspect that a lot of NZers, like me, wanted to get a Green influence in government and were really disappointed that the Greens eliminated that possibility at the last election. And they have to get rid of that flake woman co-leader ... and quick.

Hooton is wrong about Judith Collins. If Shearer got into bed with the watermelons and John Hatfield, Key would stay as opposition leader and wait for it all to come crashing down

No he won't. Key will move on from politics if National don't win next election. Then, God help us all

Its seems people have forgotten that it was Labour and the Greens that squandered $20 Billion worth of surplus's last time they were in govt. Its a very scary thought of them being allowed any where near the treasury again.

You need to cut out the wacky tobaccy. Cullun left the New Zealand government accounts in surplus and Key and his rob the nation blind with tax cuts for the wealthy have squandered the opportunity to get out of recession.

You've forgotten the commitments they made that left Cullen gloating that they'd spent every last cent. What he didn't add is that he'd squeezed every last cent out of the private sector to make the public accounts look good and leave the private sector deep in debt. What a guy.

The accounts weren't in surplus, they carried a lot of hidden unreported future debt. Cullen was borrowing about $200 million each week to create the pretense that the government was solvent.

They paid a lot of debt off. Was that squandering?

BY any sensible measure the Nats and Key have been mediocre. They made a strategic blunder over MMP.
The NZ demographic leans always to stupidity and as the brain drain continues the greens and parties supporting the lowest denominator will find their voter base increasing.
Question is how long will the taxpayers support the weird and wasteful brain f*rts the nutters will push through when in power.
Flee for real now or later is my dilemma.

Go now. We don't need elitist narcissists like you ruining this country and thinking you are doing a good job. Where will you go? The UK? No, they print money. The USA? No, they are lead by a red. South Africa? Nope, they got rid of their rednecks and don't want them back. Maybe you will find yourself a little banana republic tax haven somewhere and live happily ever after in your isolation.

Unfortunately I have yet to hear any economic comment from the Greens which is anything but disastrously destructive and reinforcing the already gross ignorance of the electorate.

Let them tell us why the taxpayer should own Solid Energy again. Morons.

Well, it sure as hell shouldn't be run by this incompetent government of unimaginative dullards with vested interests in casinos, that's for sure. And for god's sake don't let the business people who sunk Mainzeal anywhere near it. Who's left? Ah, the Social Democrats.

You've run out of Marxist's then? After they did such a brilliant job of running Russia, China, Albania, North Korea and Cuba?

And you expect us to treat your opinions seriously?

Russia and China...two of the strongest economies on earth? USA and Europe both in the pits. Open your eyes.

Key has had his chance and has been a massive disappointment.
NZ will now suffer the consequences of his failure.

I agree. His touting of a cycleway as a an economic saviour for NZ, sums up the limit of his vision and abilities, nicely

A BIG, BIG dissapointment when he had opportunity after opportunity, to steer NZ to prosperity. A nice enough bloke, but I feel almost cheated by him.

I can not listen to any Labour or Green party member complaining about this and that and nation is the Devil etc etc First of all you have the co leaders of the green party who say they care about the poor and lower class and put down anyone who earns within the high percentage, but they also fail to say that they are one of the high earners themselves so to get me to believe they care for the people of New Zealand the ones they claim National has let down would be the memebers of the Green party would have to live off $13.50 an hour with no access to perks and extra top ups which every MP has access to then once this happenes they may become more believeable.
Lets just hope that come the 2014 election the people of New Zealand vote for the better part and not some make believe government of Labour and Greens and do not get me started on the Mana party you may aswell of voted in the Bill and Ben party.

You so have the wrong idea about green thinking. The greens I know are not against prosperity. They are just against greed. Why does anyone need more than 100k a year to be comfortable?

So once somebody has made "enough" they should just stop to give someone else a chance eh?

It so happens some people earn more than $100k. Greed rears it head when others want to take a share of it through redistribution, aka progressive tax. Wanting to retain lawful earnings is not greed.

Why do Norman and Turei collect more than 100k then?

Because politics is the only moron organisation that will pay them 100k

Why do we need more than $100k a year? You obviously do t live in Auckalnd or have any children! Dork.

Who sets the acceptable income levels at 100K? (or whatever)

So if a masterful capitalist comes up with an idea and manages to provide 750 job jobs he can only be paid $100k, maybe the same as many others who did not take the risks or have the ability.

Earning well is not about greed, it is about ability and reward.

Your thinking is common in NZ and is why I cannot tell my extended family how much i earn nor would they appreciate the incredible stress and abiltiy needed to provide 30 jobs plus.

Because the individuals earning 100K, are the entrepenours and motivated ones, who pay the taxs which provide the unmotivated with a bit of the lifestyle that they are not prepared to work for.

Touched the raw nerve with that one, aye. Heaps of people on way less than 100k live in Auckland. Heaps of people in Africa and India live on virtually nothing while you obscenely consume in public. Don't give me your drivel about survival of the fittest. It's pure greed while billions suffer. Share. And work for the joy of it. Serve. Status isn't about what you own. It's about how you treat your fellow person. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

It sounds like you think you're Jesus Christ.

hey Spartacus...gizza lend of your mower mate, mines a bit flogged. In fact my legs a bit dodgy too so if you wouldn't mind giving it a push around my yard all sharing and joy like.

Buy yourself a new one with the redistributed wealth you are enjoying mate. And get that leg seen to by a good doctor you can afford now.

So what youre saying is have the tax rate at 100% after 100k and that we will be much better off.

OR what you are really saying is pull down the wealthy so the poor get poorer.

Before the Greens can 'build economic credibility', they have to develope a viable Financial Policy. Just printing money is not a viable financial policy; it is the road to economic suicide for NZ, and nothing more than the revival of the old Social Credit dogma.

The UK are doing it...

And the head of the Bank of England has come out and said they have not achieved much with their QE.

But England is still doing it, that is the point.

There is a subtle war going on and NZ is, once again, going to be the last one to realize the world has changed.

When everyone else is printing money NZ has to follow them, we are not big enough to combat the QE volumes these countries are throwing at each other.

What makes people think NZ is so superior that we will not have to sink as low as them?

Yes you're right there is a war currency war going on but what you don't seem to understand this is a war you do not want to fight let alone win.
The whole idea behind a currency war is in effect a race to the bottom. What all advocates of currency debasement seem to miss is that you don't actually want nominal currency amounts for a product of work, you actually want purchasing power.
Here's an example, what would you prefer? $10 per hour if gas was $1 per litre or $100 per hour if gas was $50 per litre. By your logic $100 per hour is better because it has a higher nominal value.

In theory you are right, but in practice we live in unstable times.

The old logic that we were brought up on was founded in stable economic times.

The point is the world has changed and not for the better, we can't win through QE but we can try to survive better until prosperity returns.

yes and they are doing the wrong thing

And the UK just had its rating downgraded while the pound has been in free fall. Just what the Greens want, is it?.

It isn't working for England either. Read the International Financial media, not your Union newsletter

Can't you guys see that the whole of your precious system is failing. It's like flogging a dead horse. Seriously, consideration has to be given to alternatives. And there are alternatives. Change is evolution.

Some bedtime reading for you, Spartacus.

Time to increase the medication I think Spartacus. You are living in a seriously altered reality.

You are the one that's out of it. Do you think you know something Japan, the US and UK don't?

Right, so everybody is out of step except you, huh? Read the posts and count the numbers (if you can), and if you are so enamoured of the US and Japanese economies, feel free to join them.

Good boy Matthew, you're showing a balance I didn't think you had. I'm sure your supposition is correct, and to the rednecks out there, there are a lot of very middle New Zealanders who can support much of Green Party philosophy. It just needs to stay balanced.

The Greens can no more be trusted than the Nazis. They had all the evangelical conviction of their own moral, spiritual, and intellectual superiority as well. Holders of the true and righteous path that all right-thinking Germans would follow in goose step to the new and better Germany. It was a dangerous and deadly deceit.

Any notion of trying to engage with or appease the Greens in some hoped for attempt of riding the tiger to minimise the damage that they will cause is folly. It too is a deceit. And it too should be rejected.

There is an opportunity and an option here however, for business, industry and the Right, Mathew, I think that you have missed. The environment does not belong to the Greens. It’s not their sole pejorative or providence in spite of their pretensions (conceit?) otherwise. Neither are they the sole representatives of, nor speakers of its truths. Concerns about the environment are concerns of us all, as we are not getting off this planet any time soon. The environment is quite possibly the most democratic entity in our lives. It belongs to us all.

That then provides us with an opportunity. We can do our own environmentalism just as much as the Greens can. And we should be. The best way to weaken the Green party is to strip away its occupation of the environment. And that’s what the National Party should be doing, what business and industry should be doing, what all of us should be doing. Although not in that whacky pitch fork and torch wielding Green mob kind of way, but in a sensible, rational, thought out evidenced based way that the centre-right, and business etc., usually does very well. Let the centre-right, let business take leadership and take action on the environment on their terms.

If you want to stop Marxism Part II coming to NZ tarted up in the guise of environmentalism, then strip the watermelon of its green, and leave it only with its vivid red core.

I think you just broke Godwin's law, sir.'s_law

Most "environmentalists" are inveterate liars and are exposed as soon as you check their "facts". However their mission in life is to feel more virtuous than everyone else rather than to solve real problems so they won't be in the least fazed by facts, logic or competition - they'll just shuffle further out into la-la land, predicting doom and blaming everyone else.

I believe business prioritizing profit over the environment is one of the reasons a lot of people vote for the greens.

Your attitude resembles Winston Peters attitude a few elections back, he has changed and so have the greens, maybe you should as well.

I think most people would be hard pressed to come up with a local example of business prioritizing profit over the environment so I don't believe that is why they vote Green. I think they have simply been misled by intense propaganda from the likes of Greenpeace uncritically disseminated by the mass media which has fed into their fear of change and of population increase.

Funny. A good read. In summary "Go Green" just leave your pitchfork at home and drive your bio fueled tractor instead.

Labour,Greens, Hone and Winnie - What a totally horrific prospect for the country - they say people get the government they deserve, but surely we don't deserve that?

Don't despair jono, the toxic mixture you predict should bring the dollar down and I will not mind at all producing and exporting with say a 65cent dollar. I should make enough money to rip off more money from the jerks who voted for them and would now pay 3 bucks a litre for petrol and 4 bucks a litre for our milk.
She'll be all good jono!!

What about a 30c dollar John. Petrol $10 a litre (exchange rate plus carbon tax - you should be push biking anyway), company tax to 50% ( they are just rich pricks) , farmers having to pay full Kyoto ETS, companies have to pay full ETS + living wage $20 which companies cant absorb so go under, personal tax rates to 60% for anybody above 50k, capital flight from the country, Norman starts printing money,........

The Greens and Labour would refer to such a state as 'Nirvana achieved' !

Wonderful to see your patriotism, generosity and loyalty John. We'll get you in the tax round.

Judging by some of the blogs in the NBR, and letters to the editor in the Herald; maybe we do!

Steady fellas. If we all work together on this one as a team we will pull through. I know we are behind on the scoreboard. But its only by two trys'. If the forwards just get their bloody heads down and get lower in the rucks we can get good ball to the halfback. We know we've got speed on the wings and the centres are tackling well. The flash fullas are dying to score some trys' and they can. We can win this! We just have to work together, if everybody does their job well, we'll all win and we'll share a beer in the clubrooms after...

What?, does this drivel mean.
too much wacky baccy.

You are not well!

Its an analogy you fools.

For what ?... arrogance and ignorance perhaps ? Get a grip Spartacus...

What did we do to deserve this bunch of big business bail-outers funded by massive borrowing.

The finance companies, Novapay, deals with casinos, Mainzeal, Solid Energy, asset sales, manufacturing crisis, job losses everywhere, sitting on their butts sucking their thumbs in the middle of a currency war, closing schools in Christchurch when community is the most needed thing...

National are heartless, incompetent, extractive industry focused dinosaurs. They must go. The centre left coalition is the answer. Don't be scared to share. We will all be better off if we do.

Actually I'm pretty sure you did nothing, and will continue to do as much hoping the Left will roll other people's dollars into your pocket.

Its just redistributing the wealth the workers generate for the greedy rich Alan. Don't be so greedy.

The Greens in government is a very scary thought. I'm hoping the Conservatives get in!

why does the minimum wage become 'the' wage? so many jobs are only offering the bare minimum to be legal.

Another example of the stupidity of National (Steven Joyce) in not campaigning against MMP. If they had tried to get something more credible than that system, the Greens would probably sink to a more respectable couple of percent like they deserve.

The country had an opportunity to get rid of/change MMP; the majority voted to retain the staus quo effevtively.
Shows how little the majority understands about stable progressive government which would produce a 'rising tide to lift all the boats'.

Remember everyone, Russel is a communist.

It's not Green policy that's bad, it's the Greens themselves. Untrustworthy, extreme left-wingers who want to nationalise wealth, control of the means of production, distribution and finance, and run anyone who might succeed without state patronage out of business. They are led by a PhD in Political Science who has achieved nothing worthwhile in his entire life.

The one thing that will make this non-National supporter a committed National voter is the possibility the Greens will be part of the next government.

I hope you are writing in this vain to scare every thinking person as to the disaster that awaits them if your prediction proved correct.
MMP is a disaster with the tail wagging the dog all the way with wasteful policies to placate a few who don't even have an electorate seat.

Well, in Aussie I see Labour has parted company with the Greens. That, to me, is an indictment of an expensive experiment that has failed. Russel Norman only arrived in NZ in the late 1990s, as well as Turei came from the joke party Mcgillycuddy Serious Party. Both of them run a country - is that an NBR joke? To me, maybe in 20 years after 2014 they might just make it.

Less of a joke than a merchant banker running a country

I prefer green to blue, red and pink.

Hate to think the state of NZ if Spartacus' thinking is typical of a left-wing government. Wasn't Russel Norman a communist in his younger days?

Apparently we are all out of step - and he is the only one in step.

Only in this cosy little chat on a business papers website. Thanks NBR for the opportunity.

This has to be a set up and Spartacus is a plant to generate feedback and debate - surely nobody could be that stupid... If that is the case, then we have all taken the bait.